Laptop suggestions or recommendations

My brother-in-law has primary progressive MS, and is finding it increasingly difficult to talk on the telephone. We’d like to buy him a laptop so that he can at least send email to his friends and family. I wonder if anyone has any experience or tips they could share? I’m guessing that the glidepads most laptops use in place of mice would be hard for my him to use, so I was wondering about getting a trackball or something similar in place of a mouse. Does anyone have any recommendations? Anything else I should be aware of when I’m shopping?

Many thanks,

Ian Dickinson

Sorry I have no ideas but just wanted to say what a nice thought.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea though to take him with you, as what seems like a good idea sometimes isn’t in practice. You could maybe do the legwork and narrow down the field of options so the process of trying them doesn,t involve traipsing round?

I wish you well whatever the outcome.


I use a MacAir and find it great. I love the built in dictation so if I am having a bad hands day I don’t have to type. I find the track pads on Macs much easier to use than non Mac ones as they work in a very similar way to the touch screens on smartphones. So I can zoom in, scroll and move around just by swiping and pinching. Love it.

Also depending on his needs on the computer he might be better off with a tablet such as an iPad. Much lighter to hold and no mouse or track pad issues as it is touch screen. If he will be mainly emailing and surfing the web an iPad or something similar such as a Samsung tablet will probably have enough grunt for him. If he was needing something for more heavy duty computing such as using spread sheets or doing lots of documents etc then a laptop would be preferable.

One word of warning… Windows are releasing Windows 8 later this week and all new PC’s and many laptops will be loaded with it by default. From what I have seen, steer clear of it for a laptop at all costs. It seems OKish for tablets but by all accounts it is a disaster when relying on a mojuse/trackpad and keyboard configuration. You’ll drive him spare :slight_smile:

Pip’s suggestion is great. Narrow it down and then get him to test drive a few.

All the best and how nice of you,


Pip, Belinda -

Thank you very much for your suggestions. We’re unfortunately not very near to where my brother-in-law lives, so I’m going to have to shop in advance and hope that he likes it! His mobility is rather limited these days in any case. I think I will also give the trackball a try, notwithstanding Belinda’s comments about her mac’s glidepad, because the one hand he can still use effectively isn’t very steady.

Happy to receive other suggestions!



Hi Ian

From personal experience, track-pads can be very variable. Even with two good ones (IBM and Apple) I still find a mouse preferable. Trackballs are mostly for the right hand, and can be very good if your arm movement is restricted (there was a thread on here a few weeks ago, about this) and I believe that there is one good reasonably priced left hander available.

Now, keeping Belinda’s comments in mind, why not think about a good used laptop as a way to see if the idea is any good. That way you will avoid the impending Windows 8, as most of the good ones will have Windows XP or Windows 7 installed. Google “Bigpockets” for a reputable supplier. Stay away from anything with Windows Vista on it - well away. The Apple laptops may be easier to use, but will cost more, and the software is expensive.

With a Windows laptop you can get - free - software designed for the elderly and those with some dexterity problems. Google “Eldy” to find this

PM me if you want to - I taught Human-Computer Interaction a few years ago.